Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these to give to your leader. If you arrive early, perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed at an outdoor village. Notes: Petty theft is common in Nairobi. As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt. Your hotel room or reception may also have a safe in which to store things. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk – particularly for later in the day. Be careful not to leave bags unattended on chairs or the floor when you're in a bar or restaurant. Without being paranoid, appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Also, make scans of important travel documents and email them to yourself – this will save you hours of time in paperwork if anything does happen.
Drive north-west past splendid views of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park (approximately 3–4 hours). Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park's small and compact area makes a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five game, Lake Nakuru is home to rhinos, and there will be a good chance of spotting and photographing one of these magnificent beasts. Your exclusive camp, outside the park, is well situated and has flush toilets and showers. Accommodation upgrades and WiFi are not available.
Head to a nearby village with your guide. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the local folk and get a feel for everyday life here. Then you'll drive from Lake Nakuru to your camp near Lake Naivasha (approximately 3 hours). One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds. There will be an opportunity to access an ATM and visit a market today to stock up for the remainder of the trip. Your campsite tonight is basic, with showers and flush toilets. Depending on availability, there may be the option to upgrade to a room. WiFi is available at the bar.
Enjoy some free time today. There are various optional activities to choose from. Perhaps venture to Hell's Gate National Park, which boasts beautiful cliffs, gorges, rock towers, volcanoes and a range of geothermal phenomena. Another great choice is to take a boat trip across Lake Naivasha – perhaps the best way to take in the atmosphere of this lush area. If you're looking for something active, perhaps hire a bike for the day and make some of your own discoveries, venturing beyond the cacti and olive trees.
Depart Lake Naivasha, making a short stop in Narok to do a spot of food shopping. Continue to Loita Hills (approximately 5–6 hours), stopping for lunch en route. Today's drive crosses the Great Rift Valley, Africa's immense and spectacular great divide, and takes you into the remote region of Loita Hills. This is the home of the traditional Maasai people. You will visit the Maasai, who are known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery, and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African community. After setting up your tent, meet your Maasai hosts. A local elder will deliver a fascinating talk about the Maasai and their history and culture. You'll be shown around a traditional Maasai home and see where the resident cattle are kept. Showers, upgrades and WiFi are not available at tonight's bush camp.
Travel from Loita to Masai Mara (approximately 1–2 hours). The road is dusty when dry, and could be slippery and soft when wet, so the going may be slow. The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and some of the world's most tremendous animals. After setting up camp, sit down to some lunch. Then it's time to jump in 4x4s and go for a game drive through the wilderness of the Mara. You campground tonight is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers. There is an option to upgrade, depending on availability. WiFi is not available here however.
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full day's game drive in 4x4s. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. Then you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast, then be returned to your campsite.
Today, we head back to Nairobi. Take a break from pitching tents and relax at a hotel. Take a refreshing dip in the pool and enjoy a cool drink or go for a walk around the town and meet some local people.
Board your safari truck and travel west (approximately 8–9 hours). Today’s destination is near the hilltop town of Kisii, which will be the last chance to stock up on supplies before heading into Tanzania. Crossing the incredibly scenic Great Rift Valley on your way to the tea-growing highlands is a fantastic introduction to the landscapes of Kenya. You will pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai. Keep a look out for these tall, graceful tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes as they tend to their prized herds of cattle. The roads on the way are pretty rough, but there will be chances to stop and stretch your legs, including a picnic lunch in the town of Narok. You will be accommodated in either very simple shared rooms (with bedding provided) or in a camp which will be set up for the night. There is no WiFi available at the camp.
Travel towards the Kenya-Tanzania border and to the shores of Lake Victoria (approximately 7–8 hours). This is not only Africa's largest lake – it's the largest tropical lake in the world. Its shores are shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. There are plenty of activities to choose from while you're here. You might like to hire a bicycle and explore the lake's surrounds (you'll need to bring your own helmet if you want to wear one). Or you can visit an African marketplace for a chance to interact with the people of Musoma. You can also simply chill out lakeside with a cold drink. Make the most of the ATM and local market to stock up for your next three days of adventuring in the wilderness. You will camp on the shores of the lake tonight, at one of its least visited campgrounds, on the outskirts of a small town called Musoma. Depending on availability, you might be able to upgrade to a room. No WiFi is available, however.
Travel from Lake Victoria to the gate of Serengeti National Park on a smooth road (approximately 3 hours) and enjoy a picnic lunch at the entrance to the park. Enter the Serengeti and take a game drive en route to your campsite. The wide open plains of the Serengeti – green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season – are home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Flat and rolling, with long grass and acacia trees, these plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringet – 'The place where the land moves on forever'. Your campsite is right in the action, within the park itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. The camp is basic with limited running water and no upgrades or WiFi available.
Start the day with a game drive at dawn. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the warmer part of the day relaxing, as the animals do, depart again at dusk for another adventure through the wild. You'll return in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park today. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to your camp. Notes: The balloon ride is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and try to get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited.
Enjoy a game drive on your way out of the park today. After lunch you will enter the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Your destination today is the rim of the crater (approximately 3 hours). Your campsite overlooks jagged volcanic peaks and rolling grasslands thousands of feet below – you can be sure that there are few campsites in the world with a better view than this! The campsite has flush toilets and hot showers available, but no WiFi or optional upgrades. It can get very cold on the crater rim, particularly during the winter months (June to August) when temperatures drop below zero. Even in the summer months it can be surprisingly chilly at night, so be sure to bring some warm clothes. Notes: You will notice some Maasai villages in the region of the Ngorongoro crater offering a cultural experience. Intrepid recommends avoiding these villages, as they can impact negatively on the Maasai culture and travellers' perceptions of it by selling an artificial experience.
A gigantic, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals. Among these are endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round, and the photo opportunities here are unrivalled. You'll drive out of the crater and head to Mto Wa Mbu for a look around town and craft market before continuing to your campsite (approximately 5–6 hours). A small village community that's off the tourist trail, Mto Wa Mbu is a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life. Your campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers. Upgrades to rooms are possible, depending on availability, but there is no WiFi.
Set off early this morning (around 7.30 am), heading for the border with Kenya and then on to Nairobi (approximately 7–8 hours). On arrival in Nairobi, you'll be dropped at the finishing point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but this can be arranged when you book this trip. You can also choose to finish your trip in Arusha this morning. Notes: It's important not to book any flights departing Nairobi earlier than 8 pm (or 11 am if you're departing Arusha).